Banned at sea: Venezuela’s crude-stained oil tankers
By Marianna Parraga and Mircely Guanipa
Tue Apr 18, 2017 | 4:31pm EDT
The vessel is among many that are constantly contaminated at two major export terminals where they load crude from Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA. The water here has an oily sheen from leaks in the rusty pipelines under the surface.
That means the tankers have to be cleaned before traveling to many foreign ports, which won’t admit crude-stained ships for fear of environmental damage to their harbors, port facilities or other vessels.
The laborious hand-cleaning operation is one of many causes of chronic delays for dozens of tankers that deliver Venezuela’s principle export to customers worldwide, according to three executives of the state-run firm, eight employees of maritime firms that contract with PDVSA and Thomson Reuters vessel-tracking data. Other reasons include delayed repairs and impoundments by service providers that are owed money by cash-strapped PDVSA.
Were it run like a business, PDVSA could probably do well, even when oil prices were relatively low like right now. But the Socialist government of Venezuela are operating it as an infinitely milkable cash cow, with predictable results. Mexico has done much the same thing, but a little less greedily (I think). Underlying the immediate problem - cashflow - exploration lags, new production isn’t coming online, and unrepaired/unmaintained equipment reduces existing production.
I wish I could say climbing out of this down-spiral will be easy, but it’s likely to take a regime change (probably bloody) and a lot of $$ just to bring production and shipments back to where they were pre-Chavez.